Love Island podcast host Sam Thompson has opened up about the mental health battle that reduced him to tears, as he teams up with Boots Men’s Health Hub to present The Locker Room series.
The former Made In Chelsea star spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about his struggles with anxiety in a bid to get more men talking about their mental health.
The 30-year-old presenter, who can often be seen making TikTok videos with his Strictly Come Dancing star girlfriend Zara McDermott, explained: “I think we all go through a lot of stuff in our lives, and I think we’ve only recently started realising how important [mental health] is.
“No one used to talk about mental health, even when I was at school. No one had a clue; you were just having a bad day.
He then went on to reveal: “When I was about 22, I got insomnia because I was so anxious. And I remember crying to my mum because I was so [worried for my mental health].
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“And she was like, ‘I think you might be really, heavily anxious and you’re going through a bit of mental strain.’
“I had no idea,” Sam admitted. “I went to the doctor and I thought there was [something physically wrong] with me.
“And they were like, ‘No, it’s genuinely just that you’re struggling mentally at the moment.’ And I just didn’t believe it.
“I was like, ‘No, this isn’t true. I don’t even know what that means. There’s got to be a quick fix.’
“But I think for a lot of these things, in the end, there are no quick fixes,” he theorised. “I think one of the biggest fixes is talking. I’ve been very lucky in my life, actually, that I’ve got a great group of friends that I can talk to.
“I think that’s why this Locker Room series is really important,” Sam continued. “It’s guys talking to guys in a setting where you wouldn’t necessarily think you could talk.
“I think men can definitely feel a lot of societal pressure when it comes to speaking about how they feel.
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“I’ve never really had that problem,” he admitted sheepishly. “I’m a talker, I project upon people. But there’s definitely a fear that by talking about these things, you’ll be rejected or dismissed for not being ‘manly’ enough.
“And I think it’s just such a great way to try and break down those stigmas when you’re in a locker room full of geezers!”
Boots original YouTube series The Locker Room delves deep into a topic that often remains unspoken – men’s health – and during the show Sam talks to players at Coventry Rugby about different health conditions – from fertility to mental well-being.
Sam said of the show: “It’s something I don’t think many people have seen before, which definitely piqued my interest.
“The series basically encourages men to speak up about their own health, mental health issues and health issues.
“It’s a group of rugby guys who are traditionally portrayed as ‘manly men’, I suppose, and they talk about topics that are quite close to my heart and that I’ve sort of gone through myself.
“What I like is that the locker room, in a sporting situation, is where you’re meant to be like, ‘Right, there are no weaknesses here. This is where we’re strong. We’re about to go out and pulverise the opposite team.’ So I think it’s such a cool scenario to be talking about this stuff in that setting.
“The lads are absolutely amazing, they really are,” Sam continued. “And – I suppose this is me judging a book by its cover – they were able to be really vulnerable and talk about things that affected them.
“I mean, we talked about premature ejaculation,” Sam said with a grin. “We literally cover all bases. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Sam picked out episode 2, Let’s talk about sex and relationships, as his favourite because it was all about “breaking down stigmas”.
“What I really like is that one of the guys might tell a story about the time they got a STI – and they tell it in a funny way – but there’s also a serious undertone to it.
“I really think the way these guys describe their experiences was both profound and interesting, because you might think, ‘Oh, that’s quite funny’, but there’s also a massive undertone of, ‘This is why it’s so important to talk about it’. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation like that before.”
Boots has an extensive selection of products and services dedicated to men’s health, available through the Boots Health Hub. Boots pharmacists can provide over-the-counter medicines and healthcare advice in stores.
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